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Fri May 21 2010 23:19:24

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay's corporate blogger Richard Brewer Hay tweeted this afternoon, "Just saw this sign at the top of the stairs at San Jose HQ: "eBay Marketplace Goals 2010."" Here are eBay's Top Priorities for its marketplace business:
  • "Retail-like" trust levels by reducing BBEs and protecting buyers
  • Enhance selection and value in CSA
  • Deliver value across the site
  • Scale B2C sellers and improve efficiency
  • Defend C2C seller business
  • Improve the eBay buyer experience
  • Build our advertising business
First, a translation of eBay's acronyms:
BBEs = bad buying experiences
CSA = Clothing, Shoes and Accessories
B2C = Large sellers (businesses selling to consumers)
C2C = Small sellers (consumers selling to consumers)

It has been quite clear eBay wants to "scale B2C sellers" ever since we broke the news of eBay's Operation Catalog, the name we used to describe eBay's on-ramp for high-volume sellers listings, ultimately introduced under the name Large Merchant Services.

But counting on mega-sellers is a risky strategy. eBay got its first taste of such risk last year when it successfully courted Zappos only to have Amazon.com acquire the company. It happened again this week on a larger scale when Japanese firm Rakuten announced it was acquiring Buy.com, eBay's first diamond seller. eBay relies on Buy.com inventory to source a great deal of its Daily Deals promotions, and now it must deal with another entity that might have a different business strategy.

eBay is increasingly pushing shoppers to select sellers, for example, the eBay Bucks promotion described in today's news story in which eBay sends shoppers to just 22 sellers in six categories. Those large sellers include contact information on their Store pages (Street Moda even has a Skype button and a box for people to sign up for its newsletter). eBay is allowing large sellers to freely harvest shoppers they can market to directly, and those sellers can leave eBay any time.

Meanwhile, when eBay refers to its small-seller strategy, it uses the word "defend," not grow.

It's also not surprising that building up its advertising business is a priority. As an online ad publisher, eBay ran 7.4 billion display ad impressions in the first three months of 2002, number nine on comScore's list of Top 10 U.S. Online Display Ad Publishers (source: comScore Ad Metrix).

The sign at eBay's headquarters gives us an interesting peek into eBay's priority list - something to mull over for the weekend.




Comments (95) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: nadine

Fri May 21 23:33:45 2010

So that's how eBay's corporate blogger gets his news? By reading signs on the stairs in HQ? Talk about the inside scoop. Not.

Aside from the fact that this statement of "marketing goals" only confirms how visionless eBay management is - "deliver value across the site" "scale B2C" "defend C2C" That's the 2010 vision? So what was the 2009 vision?

How about increasing traffic to the site? Or making search work? or stopping advertising their own wares to sellers?

It's really a tribute to what a money machine eBay is, that the current management haven't yet managed to crater the company totally.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Doris Knight

Fri May 21 23:35:16 2010

Somehow, the words "we told you so" just aren't strong enough. But I guess they'll have to do.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: pete

Fri May 21 23:37:19 2010

Who cares... eBay is done

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: pete again

Fri May 21 23:41:21 2010

I find it quite funny that they need posters like this..they must be really stupid or dumb to require prompts LOL

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Gary Overton
Web Site

Fri May 21 23:42:44 2010

Does anyone else find it interesting that they only want to "maintain" market share.
Don't think they have even been doing that well the last 2 years

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: fallonthalia
Web Site

Sat May 22 00:03:54 2010

Nowhere on this list is there anything positive for small sellers.  Defend the smalls?  What does that mean?

I can only imagine what improving the buyer experience means--you better get it to the buyer yesterday with free shipping and offer free return shipping no questions asked.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Scott

Sat May 22 00:34:34 2010

Nothing at all about restoring a sense of community.  Donohoes "corporate priorities" have inadvertently (or, perhaps purposefully) put eBay's once-good name in the gutter.

Now, eBay's name is Mudd.

As they say in politics, he alienated his base.

Hey JD, translate this acronym: FU.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: peter b

Sat May 22 00:54:46 2010

''Enhance selection and value in CSA'' = get more chinese sellers to list more cheap junk

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 22 01:35:48 2010

Somebody ought to tell them the cow already escaped and the barn doors are wide open!  Have they been asleep for the past year or so or simply self absorbed by their own image in the mirror????

I was so pleased to hear about buy.com this morning...must have been a real kick in the gut to JD.  I'm happy about that :-)

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: On Lies and Secrets This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 22 01:41:25 2010

If I had to summarize these ''goals'' in one word, I would call them insipid.  In my reading of the image, I see three measurable goals - to increase net promoter score, to increase bought item velocity and to maintain market share.  My guess is that the listed ''priorities'' are how ebay management hopes to enact these three goals.  I think there are a series of disconnects in the corporate logic at work here.  As others have pointed out, most of these ''priorities'' have existed for some time yet the company is still in the process of attempting a ''turnaround'' while its competitors have experienced growth during the same period.  I don't think these ''priorities'' are working.  The other disconnect is that the success of the company is expressed in the highly suspect metrics of net promoter score and bought item velocity.  The company could improve its net promoter score and its selling velocity and still not be profitable or in a better position after achieving these ''goals''.  I think these are the wrong set of metrics and a wrong set of priorities and focusing on them while marketplace is in decline is the proverbial ''fiddling while Rome burns.''

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Yazrallah

Sat May 22 02:22:07 2010

They know they're the laughing stock of ecommerce. Now they are just focused on advertising revenue, Prey Pal fees and Ho Chi Minh garbage brokers. They are just about done faking it even! That poster says it all! "defend small sellers"  Yeah!  Both of them! The two idiots still selling from US soil.

Yeah, told ya so!

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Nero Donahoe

Sat May 22 02:39:45 2010

These "priorities" look something a disorganized PTO put together during Parents Night.

Let me tell you what velocity will mean. It mean that ebay will start telling sellers to remove "slow" selling listings or figure out of a new way to charge more for "stale" merchandise.

The way ebay can and should "velocitize" (a new word for their Stanford and Harvard MBA lingo dictionaries) sales is TO ATTRACT MORE AND NEW BUYERS!!!

Analysts, don't believe ebay has 92 million active users. The key word here is active, and it just ain't so.

When ebay did have 80 million or so users, each one of my listings routinely received 100-250 views by unique visitors. Today that number has dwindled in a good week to 10-15 at best.

Analysts, look at the Nielsen data instead of mindlessly repeating only what ebay tells you.

EBAY LIES.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: pkarig

Sat May 22 05:05:51 2010

You guys are selling Donahoe real short .. Trust me I dislike him as much as anybody & what his stradegy is should be charged as a criminal act when you figure it out ..
 
What you are surely amiss on is the overseas & Chinese sales .. Now think for a minute, If any Chinese manufacturer wanted to sell a ton of items in the USA it would have to go through customs .. Right! .. well for the single Chinese casual sales although they run now in the millions on eBay & other ecommerce sites because they come in through the Postal system, NONE are subject to inspection .. If you tried now to import a container of the Chinese crap motorcycles & wheelers into the country, They get stopped at the port & get confiscated .. The many gov auctions will show you that, They, if purchased at the port customs auctions must be exported to another country & none that are connected to the USA .. But buy 1 on eBay & it sails right trough because again single sales are not subject to inspection even though the company ships hundreds of units a day to individual buyers in the USA ..
 Just think of all the tainted items that now make it into the USA because of Donahoe & cultivating the Chinese & off shore sellers .. It's staggering .. Its definetly not ethical but Donahoe never will be ..
 Now the 2nd thing you are over looking in a major way .. When you buy from one of these Chinese sellers (and remember many show up as Califonia sellers but ship from China) when you pay with your USA greenbacks through PayPal your money has NOW LEFT THE COUNTRY & is not subject TO ANY TAXES ANY PLACE!!! So say eBay loses all its small sellers, but cultivates a pile of Chinese vendors , eBay PAYS NO TAXES WHAT SO EVER on item sold in the USA by chinese vendors, so that is like 15%-20% more cash that ebay has from the profit of every sale .. off shore subject to nothing .. nobody just take it & run ..
 
 The stock holders are so stupid because they think its great eBay holds so much cash off shore, but eBay  does not pay its stock holders any dividends ..
 So think it over , Millions of tainted products coming ashore EVERY DAY & eBay paying NO TAXES on any of the sales ...
 This & Meg wants to be govenor, Think how much cash her & CEO's like her have cheated California out of with schemes like these ..  

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: mickeyfinn This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 22 05:18:24 2010

I've often reflected on the risks in business. EBay has been providing a lot of points to ponder lately.

FIRST is the danger of metrics. Sure they are necessary to be able to define performance characteristics so that you can measure how you are doing, but there is a big problem.

Once a metric is established, those working around it begin to understand the cause and effect relationship between the work being done and the results that show in the metric. With this knowledge, what often happens next is that the objective of maximising the metric becomes the focus of efforts and any performance improvements on actual business processes is incidental - with the possibility that they are actually negative.

As an (albeit too obvious) example borrowed from a real situation: a person who had responsibility for spare parts was measured on inventory value - higher meant more funds were tied up in stock, so keeping it down was the intention. However, this person excelled against that metric ... by drastically dropping inventory levels.

Unfortunately this resulted in extended delays in supplying parts to customers and their own service department, since parts had to be ordered from manufacturers that were once kept in stock. Repair backlogs increased, customer complaints increased and the business suffered. Not exactly rocket science.

If your metric is as inappropriate as this, you will at least be able to pick it up quickly - but some may be as elusive as quantum physics where an action at one point causes an effect at some distance with no apparent connection. Understanding these IS in the realms of rocket science ... or in the mind of a savvy CEO who has lived and breathed their business for 50 years and knows who is going to sneeze first when the wind changes.

Choosing the right metrics requires intimate understanding - and eBay management raises questions about competance, let alone understanding.


SECOND is the risk from customer churn.  By heading in the direction of acquiring larger sellers to provide volume, eBay runs a greater risk of impact.  Just one or two of these that decide to move elsewhere will hurt - and its something they have already seen.

So let us all measure how healthy our business is by the size of the BBQ in our back yard and make sure we put all our eggs in one basket - so we, too, might be as successful as eBay.

Oh save me.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: fitzcharming

Sat May 22 05:37:54 2010

@pkarig - I'm curious when you say ebay is not subject to taxes any place what you mean?  Are you talking about federal income tax, California state franchise tax, sales and use tax?  And where do you get your 15-20% estimate?  I'm a CPA working in a large SEC registered public company and previously in public practice with a client base of multinational corporations.  Your numbers and logic aren't what I've experienced in my career.  
If you mean US federal income tax or state franchise tax, as a US based corporation ebay is still most certainly subject to tax on its bottom line. If you're talking sales tax then the seller is merely a conduit for collecting the tax and remitting to the state.  The buyer pays the sales tax, not ebay.  At this time it generally only applies to in state sales so I'd guess a large share of the sales aren't subject to sales tax anyway.  
I am myself a small seller on ebay and other sites and am absolutely in the process of diversifying my venues so I'm not defending ebay.  Just curious about the information you've given.  

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Jim This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 22 08:35:26 2010

@mickeyfinn

Exactly!

This is what would happen when say a consultant took over a business without any real experience in that business they were running and then applied what works in consulting to a retailer.  I would expect to see a lot of statistical driven activities, policies applicable to other situations without any real insight into the basis for the business.  

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: My Own Website Not Quite Paying My Bills Yet

Sat May 22 09:04:28 2010

I wonder if the "Enhance selection and value in CSA (clothing, shoes, and accessories)" is a direct response for the Zappos disaster.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Pat

Sat May 22 10:20:50 2010

"Defend the C2C Seller Business"

Amazon is getting quite proactive in going after eBay sellers. I find that somewhat ironic, as eBay wouldn't have to defend the attrition of sellers, if they managed their site more logically, and didn't disadvantage sellers at every turn.

Of course, that one's pretty far down on the priority list, so that might tell you something too.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Brenda

Sat May 22 11:45:31 2010

"Deliver value across the site".

Love that one.  Perhaps they might start by cutting their fees in half and actually giving people the exposure they pay for.

eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities   eBay Blogger Reveals Corporate Priorities

by: Yazrallah

Sat May 22 12:19:30 2010

It's funny how they aren't even trying to talk anymore. They have "Mini Live's" in big cities with about 200 people attending (or less). Griff is hiding on Fakebook with the cheerleaders. He deletes anyone that may make him uncomfortable. At least they don't bother trying to pretend they know what they're doing  anymore. Maybe they're all busy getting Meg-ahoe's campaign ready. It will be hysterical when a few of their huge Bamboo power sellers split.

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